GY438      Half Unit
Cities and Social Change in East Asia

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Hyun Shin STC. S601f


This course is available on the CEMS Exchange, MBA Exchange, MSc in China in Comparative Perspective, MSc in City Design and Social Science, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Environment and Development, MSc in Human Geography and Urban Studies (Research), MSc in Local Economic Development, MSc in Regional And Urban Planning Studies, MSc in Urban Policy (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in Urbanisation and Development. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

The number of students able to be accommodated is limited. If the course is over-subscribed, places will be allocated at the Department’s discretion and a waiting list may be created. For further details, please contact your relevant Programme Coordinator



Course content

This is an interdisciplinary urban course that encourages students to develop a critical understanding of how urban space is transformed in diverse social, economic and political settings, and what social implications are made upon the powerless and the poor. Examining the process of socio-spatal transformation in times of condensed urbanisation and economic development, this course makes use of Asia as an empirical site to unsettle Western notions of urban development. Various examples of urban policies and practices will be drawn from cities across East and Southeast Asia, with emphasis on newly industrialised capitalist economies as well as transitional economies such as mainland China.

Focusing on urban questions in particular, the course comprises of lectures and seminars on the following themes:

  • the political economy of urbanisation;
  • the politics of land;
  • global gentrifications;
  • displacement and dispossession;
  • cities of spectacle and mega-events;
  • urban social movements

Students will also have opportunities to view and discuss various sources of audiovisual materials and documentaries related to these themes.


15 hours of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the LT.

There are nine 90-minute seminars, starting from Week 2.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to complete one essay plan for their assessed essay and blog.

Indicative reading

Harvey, D. (1989) The Urban Experience, Johns Hopkins University Press;

Hsing, Y-t. (2010) The Great Urban Transformation, Oxford University Press;

Lees, L., Shin, H.B. and Lopez-Morales, E. (2016) Planetary Gentrification, Polity Press;

Logan, J.R. and Molotch, H.L. (1987) Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place, University of California Press;

Park, B-G. et al (Eds) (2012) Locating Neoliberalism in East Asia: Neoliberalizing Spaces in Developmental States, Wiley-Blackwell;

Wu, F. (2015) Planning for Growth: Urban and Regional Planning in China, Routledge

Abbas, A. (1997) Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance, University of Minnesota Press;

Allen, J.R. 2012) Taipei: City of Displacements, University of Washington Press;

Forrest, R. and Lee, J. (Eds.) (2003) Housing and Social Change: East-West Perspectives, Routledge;

Harvey, D. (2016) The Ways of the World, Profile Books;

Labbé, D. (2014) Land Politics and Livelihoods on the Margins of Hanoi, 1920-2010, UBC Press;

Lees, L., Shin, H.B. and Lopez-Morales, E. (Eds.) (2015) Global Gentrifications: Uneven Development and Displacement, Policy Press;

Mathews, G. (2011) Ghetto at hte Center of the World: Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong, The University of Chicago Press

Rojas, C. and Litzinger, R.A. (Eds.) (2016) Ghost protocol: Development and displacement in global China. Duke University Press;

Seng, L.K. (2013) Squatters into Citizens: The 1961 Bukit Ho Swee Fire and the Making of Modern Singapore, NUS Press

Smart, A. (2006) The Shek Kip Mei Myth: Squatters, Fires and Colonial Rule in Hong Kong, 1950-1963;

Sorensen, A. (2002) The Making of Urban Japan: Cities and Planning from Edo to the Twenty-first Century, Routledge/Curzon


Coursework (25%, 1000 words) and essay (60%, 3000 words) in the ST.
Class participation (15%) in the LT.

Coursework (25%) refers to a blog piece. Students are to submit regular reading responses via Moodle as part of class participation. Further details will be included in the course guide.

Student performance results

(2014/15, 2016/17 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 13.3
Merit 46.7
Pass 40
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2017/18: 27

Average class size 2017/18: 15

Controlled access 2017/18: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2016/17 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 100%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)